With a proposal from the Huntingdon County Commissioners for access to the eastern side of Raystown Lake, including ADA accessibility, some people may wonder what accessibility already exists for disabled individuals at the lake.
According to Jude Harrington, operations manager at Raystown Lake, said ADA accessibility standards have been a major concern with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a long time.
“Several years ago, the corps conducted a survey to identify facilities that were not handicap accessible,” he said. “In that, it identified things we could do to make things more accessible that could be budgeted. Over the years, we’ve chipped away at the list.
“Also, ADA accessibility is a design standard that we’re supposed to meet,” Harrington added.
Some of those items on that list that have been checked off include new walkways that are ADA compliant, a handicap fishing pier at Aitch Boat Launch, restrooms that were either built or retrofitted for handicap accessibility, and camp sites, like the Point Campground at Seven Points Recreation Area and Susquehannock Campground, that are on the same levels with no steps.
“Another example would be the (Greenside Pathway at Seven Points Recreation Area),” said Harrington. “While the walking trail is not 100% accessible, because we don’t have the topography there to make it 100% accessible, we did the cutting, filling and shaping to get the grades we needed as much as we could. Also, we have facilities like the Raystown Lake Visitors Center.
“At the visitors center, there’s an elevator available, and there’s an exit from the deck with a ramp,” he added. “Also, things are grandfathered that we don’t have to be ADA accessible, and they don’t have to change until we make improvements, but every time we do, we’ve made them accessible, and we have gotten to older buildings to retrofit them to make it accessible. For example, in the shower houses, you may lose one toilet, but there’s a larger shower area for the handicapped.”
“If there are older buildings, we’re retrofitting to make them accessible,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of and effort either building or retrofitting our facilities, whether that would be at Weaver Falls or Snyder’s Run, with handicap parking spaces. I know the corps has done a lot to make the facilities accessible, and I think we’re a model for other facilities (in the corps). It’s not perfect, but we’ve done a lot over the years.”
Harrington acknowledges that remote areas of the lake, that have been remote since the lake’s inception, are inaccessible to the handicapped, like parts of the eastern side of the lake, but that doesn’t take away from the facilities that are already accessible to everyone at Raystown Lake.
“To say we don’t have any handicap facilities would definitely be inaccurate,” he said.